Cleanthony Early had a hard time wrapping his head around what he accomplished Wednesday night.
Early scored 39 points - the most for a Wichita State player in over 27 years - and the No. 23 Shockers beat Southern Illinois 82-76 two days after returning to the national rankings.
Early's point total was the highest for the Shockers since All-America and future NBA star Xavier McDaniel scored 44 in 1985.
''No, no, not really,'' Early said when asked if he realized how close he came to McDaniel. ''I respect him, though, respect him for doing that. I know he was the man.''
Wichita State (15-1, 4-0 Missouri Valley) needed everything Early could do as Southern Illinois rode a hot-shooting first half to keep it close into the final minute.
Desmar Jackson scored 28 points and Anthony Beane added 14 for the Salukis (7-8, 0-4).
Ehime Orupke had 10 points and nine rebounds for Wichita State, which has won 16 straight games at home.
''That was the main thing ... to get that W, keep this ...